Collaboration Between CPPC and Infrasonica

September 9, 2021

The Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Infrasonica are delighted to present Infrasonica’s latest installment of sonic exploration – Wave #5. Launched in 2019 by Pablo José Ramírez, Sam Simon, and Eloisa Travaglini, infrasonica.org is a bilingual on-line platform that gathers and publishes archives of experimental sound and essays on contemporary critical thought focused on non-Western cultures. Wave #5 is comprised of seven features including sound pieces, essays, conversations, poems and visual essays revolving around the concept of Audible Matter, aimed at thinking about the conjuncture of soundings and knowing-the-world.

Through the work of artists, musicians, curators and thinkers, Wave #5 asks how sound is mediated and translated. How does it shape epistemologies in tandem with the non-human world? How does the audible engage with the enigmas of silence and infrasonic registers of sound? Where do culture and the materiality of sound find each other?

Audible Matter might appear as a seemingly contradictory enunciation. From within Western tradition, sound has been detached from its materiality. As a visually centered culture, the very proof of the “realness” of matter relies on it being revealed to us visually. Its formal qualities frame the perception of reality. Sound then is associated with a procedure of abstraction, detached from the formalities of matter. Curiously, this relationship of sound and matter is as much a part of our daily representation of reality as the visual representation of the world. While turning a corner, the frenetic sound of an approaching car announces its impending visual presence. Sound, we could argue, is associated with common knowledge as much as the visual regime is.

Together with an outstanding group of international contributors, Wave #5 challenges the very way we relate to the act of listening.

Xenia Benivolski’s research draws a direct line between resonance and destruction. Her contribution to the 5th Wave explores ongoing research on Europe’s bells and the many lives the metallic alloys have lived throughout the centuries. This essay details how the copper-tin ratios of church bells have changed to make them more effective shapeshifters, more easily melted, cast and repurposed into weaponry and monuments during wartime before being cast once more into bells. An unintended side-effect of the extraction of tin is that the bells take on a distinct resounding tone, meaning, the European bell resonates on its own frequency, signaling its ever-present proximity and preparedness to the machinery of death and war.  

A dancing flute. The mimicry of an alto sax. A playful horn. The bellowing baritone sax. David Zink Yi uses these instruments in looping, repetitive flares to explore the connectivity between musical improvisation—particularly from African-American jazz traditions—and the song repertoire of a particular bird that includes up to 3,000 distinct phrases. The piece explores what is needed to burn a new refrain into the bird’s memory and what is lost when the limits of memory are reached. In order for a new phrase to be remembered, must one fall away?

The 5th Wave track comes from Mhamad Safa, a multidisciplinary artist whose collaboration with Infrasonica includes a conversation with Reem Shadid where they contemplate the sound politics of mass migration, rhythmic algorithms and musical traditions from North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, raising speculative questions on the region’s human displacement and their musical traditions.   

In his contribution, The Unbalanced Land, Adrián Balseca reflects on the origin and dynamics of the recurring application of epistemological and representative models of Western modernity by observing the specificity of the experience of British explorations in the late 19th century in the artist’s home country of Ecuador. Through a sensorial reading of the travel reports of British expeditions through Santay Island, Balseca interrogates cognitive frameworks of production and representation, and proposes the reexamination of definitions and measuring terms of a Western paradigm that imposes a standardization and an obliteration of cultural specificities via practices of narration, illustration and cartography.

Hellen AscoliNegma Coy, and Sofia Jade Tanski’s Hear Heart is a visual poem that opens to experiences of sound, still and moving image. A relentless series of interrogatives lead us through a sensory dimension in which touch, vision, sound, affect, memory, language and narration exist in an undivided space, relating to one another via a condition of necessary existence for us to make sense of the place we inhabit, of the representation of ourselves and that of others. Hear Heart gives access to the diversity and complexity of their collective practice, which finds its origin in the Mayan tradition of weaving on a backstrap loom, a device used to reflect body, space and the physical experience within it to investigate matters of identity and cultural belonging.

Ella Finer presents Ode/Oda, a sound installation composed in response to Mercedes Azpilicueta’s exhibition Bondage of Passions presented at Gasworks, London in 2021. In Finer’s work, Azpilicueta’s tapestries become acoustic portals through which we listen to a multilingual recounting of Catalina de Erauso’s life, an extraordinary 17th-century figure whose legacy is remembered through contrasting voices, unified via notations on the roles of power and constructions of gender and masculinity.

Manuela Ribadeneira and Pável Aguilar’s contribution explores Temblores armónicos, an exhibition originally presented in 2016 at FLORA ars+natura in Bogotá. Temblores armónicos is based on a long-term research project inspired by Ribadeneira’s visit to the town of Armero in Colombia, destroyed by the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in 1985. In this body of work, Ribadeneira speculates on the uncertainties and enigmas of the relationship between sound, scientific knowledge and visual representation. As part of the project, she collaborated with Aguilar on a rapturous music composition whose raw material is the sonic emission of the volcano itself.